Child abuse victims given support

By Nina Gougis

About 100 people surrounded the Sycamore courthouse to raise awareness about child abuse Wednesday.

As part of the fourth annual “Hands Around the Courthouse,” DeKalb County State’s Attorney Ron Matekaitis spoke about the prevalence of child abuse in DeKalb County.

There are almost 600 reported instances of child abuse each year in DeKalb County, Matekaitis said. The Department of Children and Family Services finds evidence a child was abused or neglected with more than 150 of these cases.

State Rep. Robert Pritchard (R-Hinckley) also attended the event, which included a moment of silence for child-abuse victims.

Several non-profit organizations from the DeKalb and Sycamore area helped coordinate the event.

The event had a large turnout for a rural area like DeKalb, said Peggy Carey, prevention resource developer for the Prevent Child Abuse Illinois Rockford region and a coordinator for the event.

Susan Plote, executive director for the Family Service Agency, 330 Grove St., said she was also pleased with the turnout. The event was a success because several resource groups in the county were willing to collaborate, she said.

“It says a lot about DeKalb County in their prevention and response,” Plote said.

Others were impressed that Pritchard and Matekaitis attended the event.

“I know elected officials have very busy days and the fact that they would come out to give their support means a lot,” said Lori Imes, member of the children’s advisory board for the Children’s Advocacy Center of DeKalb County, 14 Health Services Drive.

Other service workers also expressed their pleasure with the event.

“We’re always pleased when people make a stand on the important issues of abuse and neglect,” said Jill Olson, the executive director for CASA DeKalb County, 407 W. State St. in Sycamore.